Week 1: IT IS STILL WITH US! 1 Aug – 8 Aug
‘Did the law which is good cause my doom? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commandment for its own evil purposes.’ Romans 8:13 (NLT)
Sin – the pandemic that matters most! I have been struck by the government scientists repeated use of the phrase: ‘The virus is still here – it hasn’t gone away!’ In Romans 1 – 4 Paul argues that ‘all have sinned’ – it is a pandemic! In Romans 5 he announces ‘..we have been made right in God’s sight by faith..’ there is a cure! However, in chapters 6-8 he explains the on-going, relentless struggle between our new nature and our old sinful nature and confesses – he personally is still struggling with sin! It is still here! ‘The trouble is not with the law, but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master.’ Romans 8:14-24. The virus (sin) seeks to keep us in ‘lockdown’!
Take time for personal reflection: Paul explains that the virus (sin) works by ‘using God’s good commandment for its own evil purposes.’ In the next few verses he describes how he feels totally overwhelmed by his own sin. Even to the point that ‘When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it, the sin within me is doing it.’ He says this, not to excuse himself – but to explain just how much the virus (sin) hasn’t gone away and is still very destructive within us. Romans 8:18-24
THE CURE! Paul then says, ‘Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.’
Let’s focus the whole of this week on our own spiritual wellbeing. It is senseless to pray for others, if we are neglecting our own spiritual health and wellbeing. Reflect on – and pray about:
· How is ‘the pandemic’ of sin impacting on me?
· If it continues to overwhelm me – to what/to whom am I turning for help?
· How is it affecting my own self-esteem?
· Is the virus (sin) ‘social distancing’ me from my Lord and Master?
· Is low self-esteem stopping me from sharing my Christian faith?
· Do I feel fully forgiven (Rom. 8:1) and is my faith helping me defeat sin?
Now pray for others! Pray for
those who struggle with their self-esteem and spiritual wellbeing. Think of
those who have shared with you their spiritual struggles, self-doubt and lack
of certainty about trusting God. Share your own struggles and let them know - ‘The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord!’
Week 2: HE IS STILL WITH US! 9 – 15 August
‘And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fear for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 8:38,39 (NLT)
What an assurance! What a confidence builder! Our Saviour is with us all the time! No ‘social distancing’ with Him! ‘Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.’ James 4:8 (NLT)
Pray for those who have been suffering loneliness and ‘alone-ness’ at this time
Throughout this COVID pandemic many, many people have experienced isolation, loneliness, fear and an ‘alone-ness’ in the midst of threat. For the people of faith – nothing separates us from our Saviour and Lord!
Give thanks for the constant presence of our Saviour – thank Him for his presence and re-assurance in the midst of worry and concern.
Pray that people in hospital with the virus may have the faith to turn to the Saviour who is there with them – and be heartened by His nearness.
Pray for those who suffered the loss of loved ones who died without their families present; for those who didn’t get the opportunity to be with their loved ones and say ‘goodbye; for those who are grieving now and feeling robbed of their parents, partners, family, friends and neighbours.
Pray particularly for those you know who need His presence now! Given God’s promise to comfort and be with those who mourn – pray expectantly!
Pray for Cambusbarron: Continue to pray for the shopkeepers who are valiantly keeping going under very difficult circumstances. Ask God to make Himself known to them – pray they may know He hears their prayers and is close to them.
Give thanks for the NHS ‘hospital at home’ team – their services have been really appreciated by one or more of our people. Give thanks for services such as the library and pray for those providing such local services.
Pray for our own Church Re-opening Team – they are interpreting the Government and National Church guidelines regarding the actions needed to safely re-open our church for worship. There are several building repairs needed as well and these are being undertaken right now. Alterations and signage for safe practices need to be put in place over the next few weeks – and then we can begin to look forward to prayer and worship together.
Week 3: HE IS STILL THE SAME! 16 – 22 August
‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.’ Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)
Not only is He still with us – He is still the same Jesus!!! He is still - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the strength, the shield and hiding place of David, the rock and salvation of David, the Good Shepherd who looks after His flock; our Saviour, our Lord; the one who gives rest to the weary and to those who labour; the Way, the Truth and the Life; the bringer of peace; the light of the world; the one who says: ‘all who call upon me will be saved’……and so on. Meditate on the person of Jesus, Son of God and think about all His promises. …and speak with Him. You are never alone; He hears you and will comfort you.
Pray BIG! Given our Saviour is with us and hears our prayers – let’s not limit Him .. let’s make our prayers BIG! Pray for the people you know who will be anxious and find it difficult to come out again and live a more normal life. Pray they may apply their faith, look to their Saviour for strength and courage and pray we may all ‘walk with Him’ into today and into the coming days.
Pray BIG! The new situation offers many new ways of working as a church and as a people. Pray our Kirk Session may earnestly look for the opportunities provided by the new situation. Ask that He may lead us into new ways of ‘doing Church’ and fulfilling our mission to take the Gospel to all of Cambusbarron.
Pray for our wellbeing! Pray for Angela – the current and immediate future presents real threats and challenges for her work in providing great times of fellowship and singing. It may be some time before the activities she has nurtured with God’s help, and in His name, can return to what they were (a blessing to all who participated!). Pray that she will be supported and encouraged as she leads new initiatives.
Give thanks to God for our natural world – and all the health and wellbeing it brings to us. Pray for those who look after our national parks and our countryside. Pray they may not be discouraged. Pray that people will come to appreciate God’s creation more and look after the wonders of creation that God has given to us.
Give thanks to God for Graham and others in the Ministry. In this time when there is so much uncertainty and so many obstacles to ministry, pray that Graham may continue to be encouraged and pray God will give him the resilience he will need. Give thanks to God for the Moderator’s leadership and ministry style and use him to bring new life to our national church. Pray that Josh and Rachel may know God’s nearness and guidance at this time. Pray God will continue to raise up helpers in the work of our church and that many will come forward with their talents and make it possible to carry out our mission.
Week 4: THE HOPE OF AN ETERNAL, GLORIOUS NORMAL! 23 – 31 August
‘We too wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children including the new bodies he has promised us. Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom.’ Romans 8: 23b (NLT)
We return to Romans 8 where we began in week 1 of this PrayerNet. Christianity is not a story of defeat and despair through the impact of sin. NO! It is a faith that brings hope, certainty and newness of life and life more abundant – eternal life in Him! The COVID virus provides an insight into how a disease can take away our freedom and enslave us in fear and anxiety. We now appreciate our freedom and yearn for its return! The virus of sin has enslaved us – and we perhaps now understand better the need for the hope of freedom! Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom.’ Let us give thanks to God for the work of our Saviour and for the hope with which we can live out our lives through faith! The theme this year at Keswick was ‘HOPE!’ Go to the Keswick Ministries website and find ways to listen to the sermons – even although the events have finished.
Pray BIG - for those needing HOPE! Pray for people across the world who are living desperate lives in utter poverty, pain and suffering and persecution – all through the greed of the corrupt leaders of their countries and engaging in political struggles through war. Pray for those living where there is little or no rainfall, polluted wells and rivers such that the people suffer malnutrition, disease and have no quality of life or hope that anything will improve for them. Pray for East Africa where they are struggling with the impacts of huge plagues of locusts destroying crops, livelihoods and food supplies. Help us not to forget those affected over the coming weeks and months.
Pray BIG – for those suffering
persecution as a result of their faith. Pray they may refresh in spirit as they
place their faith and hope in Christ.
Pray for our young people and children – our young people have never experienced anything like this pandemic and in many cases it is affecting them mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. As a church we have not been able, because of lockdown restrictions, to have much contact with our own young people, children and families. Pray we may be able as a church to re-connect with them and support them. Many of the young people in our families have taken time to reflect on life and what is important. Pray the Holy Spirit will establish a generation grounded in life and supported by faith and the hope that Jesus brings.
Pray for our schools as they return – pray for those anxious about going back, those starting at a new school – and pray for teachers and staff.